which turntable to buy for $1500 best value ?

i have a rega p2 hooked up to an arcam fmj a18. i want to take a considerable jump with my tt. i am considering marantz 15s1 but wonder with the great cartridge it comes with, is that what i am basicly paying for or does the table belong in that price range. other possibilities are the concept, used p5, used scout [heard they were tricky to set up] or possibly a rp6 which would break me for a while.
I really dig my Pro-ject II Xperience Classic ($1500 new). The Blue Point No 2 cart that comes with it is a pretty good value. My deck was used, but really well maintained (the previous owner switched out the BP2 for a Sumiko Blackbird, so the cart was almost new). If I actually had to pay the full retail for my table, I'd have taken a much longer look at the Scout and the Concept.
Used Garrard 401, cheap plywood plinth to get you going and a cheap but good arm e.g. Jelco 750, used Hadcock, Rega etc.
Stretch your budget a little and get a Well Tempered Simplex. I think it's around 1995.00. You will be glad you did.

Well Tempered Simplex may be worth a listen. I believe it may just slightly exceed your $ Range.
The problem with the Well Tempered Simplex and Amadeus is Opera Audio is building them in China for Well Tempered Labs. The Simplex could be the best sounding $2k table, but WTL needs to be more upfront about where the Simplex/Amadeus are manufactured!
thanks for the input on the project jazzerdave. i haven't looked into any project tt's but i will start. shakeydeal, the simplex just is'nt an option for me at that price range. how about a used emotion for under a grand? still very interested in info on the marantz? thanks again everyone.
Rega P3-24, TTPSU and Dynavector 10x5 should mop the floor with your P2. The P3-24 with TTPSU sounds better than the P5 without it to my ears. Then again, you could get a P5 and add the TTPSU when funds recover.

Haven't heard the RP series to comment.
What is the problem there, dayglow? Xenophobia?

I don't own WTL tables but if I were in the market for a good table for around $1.5-$2k and I can't DIY , I would probably go for the Simplex.
A used Soto Sapphire or Star or VPI Hw17 Mk IV will perform better than any of those tables mentioned. The are often found with Rega or Sumiko arms. There is an awesome Sota Star with Linn Ittok for sale here now. Not affiliated with seller, but i have that exact combo and it sounds excellent.

If the tables sound good, and I know for a fact the Amadeus does, why does it matter where they are made?

The build quality of the Amadeus, and the packing and attention to detail takes a backseat to none.
"The problem with the Well Tempered Simplex and Amadeus is Opera Audio is building them in China for Well Tempered Labs. The Simplex could be the best sounding $2k table, but WTL needs to be more upfront about where the Simplex/Amadeus are manufactured!"

Why is this a "problem"?

Also, I've seen no evidence of Well Tempered attempts to conceal where and who manufatures the turntables to their exacting specifications. BTW Opera does a fine job on these. They are precisely and beautifully made.
On the WTL website the back side of the Simplex is visible where made in Beijing is proudly displayed. Where the back image of the Amadeus is on an angle and not visible. Whether that was intentional, that's your call. I have nothing against Opera Audio I have 4 Ella-Baby power cords and a PW-3 power strip in my system. IMO the Simplex and Amadeus are overpriced when compared to the Chinese built Hanns Acoustic tables.
"A used Soto Sapphire or Star or VPI Hw17 Mk IV will perform better than any of those tables mentioned."

No way in hell will either of those tables outperform an Amadeus.

I don't mean to hijack this post, but I've been very interested in the Well Tempered tables and wondering what the real, tangible sonic differences are between the Simplex and Amadeus. Also any thoughts of the Well Tempered tables vs. Regas would be interesting since I own an old Rega P2 myself. Sorry again to Smognote for the diversion from his topic.
thanks for al the info, again simplex not an option. still hoping to hear about the marantz. i really like the look. where are the reviews on the rega rp6? i also have to mention after going on the vpi website, they say if you are looking to buy a tt under 1500, wait till april. anyone hear about that? wonder what there bringing. still thinking about the concept alot too. the rega 3-24 is nice but more in favor of a used p5 for the arm.
forgot to metion manitunc, i looked at the sota star which looks sweet. like the price, my only concern is i once looked at buying a used sota and the guy at a hifi store told me they can leak oil if shipped. not worth the risk. is there any truth to this? also if i did make this purcase would my rb 250 arm be a good fit for it [at least for a little while, thanks
Doesn't matter were Well Tempered are made. The design is just too simple. Bill Firebaugh built one out of junk materials at a show and it still worked better than most. If I'm not mistaken that's where the golf ball tone arm paddle came from.

The problem with most tables, especially the ones on your short list, are their metal bearings in the platter and the tone arm. They all have runout which leads to chatter and the tone arms are under dampened. Rega, Marantz, Sapphire, VPI, really? The Sota is the only competition for any Well Tempered but its bottom end is weak by comparison.

I have a new $4000 Benz Ruby Z mounted on a butt old square motor WT Classic with a bent wand that I bought as junk for $200 that I was going to fix and gift it to a friend. It blew my Aries away. The Well Tempered arm is the only arm I know of that can track ALL the tonearm modulation tracks on the Shure Test Record. My (good looking $5K) VPI Aries was sold and I bought my friend a cordless drill instead.

The Clearaudio Performance with a ceramic magnetic bearing at $2800 plus a cartridge would be the only other low cost high performance table that I would recommend.

If your serious about getting the best sound per dollar from your LP's this drab looking $1K Classic and a Benz Micro Silver is within your budget.


If looks are your priority disregard this response.
Good recommendation Vic. But does that table come with the apparently missing motor?

No way in hell will either of those tables outperform an Amadeus.

I was referring to the OP's list of possible turntables, not other's references. I have no experience with the Amadeus, so I cant comment on its performance.
There is no oil in a Sota. I have purchased, sold and shipped many Sota Star, Sapphire and Cosmos and have never heard or seen anything regarding leaking oil.

As for a rega 250, It will work fine. I have an audiomods IV mounted on a Sota Cosmos which sounds awesome. You might want to look into getting the audiomods work done to your Rega 250. It is a bargain for what you get,.
manitunc, thanks again, for the info. it's good to know the rb250 would work for now. vic, i was wondering if you would explain run out. i do know what that is but am very interested. i [with out question] would buy a 5000 dollar table if it were in my budget. someday hopefully but for now i can not exceed 1500. now when i see something i like, i tend to look at the zip code to see if i can aviod having it shipped. is this the way most potential buyers go?
SOTA - the refurbished units ex factory are good value. SOTA uses grease in bearing not oil. Critical thing in transporting a SOTA is the transit bolts that lift the platter/spindle off the sapphire thrust pad to prevent damage in transit.
Replacing the bearing on a used SOTA is very easy as well, can be done in the field.
If used tables are in the picture, why not vintage used, if well restored by the seller? You can buy many a very high quality vintage direct-drive tt for $1500 and less, with tonearm. (The built-on tonearms are not always up to the quality of the tt and its drive system, however. Sometimes yes, sometimes no.)

I really don't want to knock SOTA tt's per se, but the Star Sapphire that I used to own (for at least 5-10 years) could not hold pitch on piano chords, and I don't think it was a defective unit. Boy, was I surprised that I did not have to put up with that, when I replaced it with a Nottingham. I think Nottingham should be in this discussion, if vintage does not appeal to the OP.
Smognote, runout is the very small distance between moving parts such as collars and bearings. Without runout the two pieces would be press fit together and they wouldn't spin. Bearings are naturally susceptible to chatter and the transmission of environmental vibration.

The spindle in the Well Tempered is immersed in lubricating fluid and constantly in contact with four nylon/plastic points. The platter belt preloads the spindle into these points constantly. The Well Tempered cleverly and economically addressed many turntable issues years ago.

There are decent turntables that use this old metal collar bearing technology with good success. I'm so tainted by the simplicity of the Well Tempered that when I see these exotic and expensive methods to correct these old problems I'm humored. Todays somewhat expensive magnetic suspension is taking the spinning platter to yet another level of performance

Another take on a bearing with runout is the DPS turntable that Ayre Acoustics markets. From what little I've read the bearing is under constant friction. The motor that drives the platter is very robust to be able to turn this very tight bearing. The reviews on Ayre's unassuming DPS turntable are very good.
The early Sotas, the ones with the black top plate, metal control cover plate and wood sides, sometimes had an issue with pitch stability. I have owned a couple of those. However, the Sotas from Series III on do not have that issue. Series III tables have wood tops and control cover to match the rest of the table. Sota has had 30 years to develop and refine their product, whose basic theory of operation has not changed. Tweaking an already good product for that period of time usually results in a great product.

Lewm brings up a good point about Nottinghams. I have a Spacedeck that I will be listing on Audiogon that is in your price range. Do some research, it is a VERY good table.

Manitunc, FWIW, I owned a Sota Star Sapphire Series III with vacuum, which according to your history should have been free of the problem of pitch instability. It was not. I read elsewhere that the problem has indeed been eliminated in the Cosmos and Millennium tt's, but they of course are way beyond the upper price limit of the OP. I obviously do not know as much about the Sota products as do you. My experience is purely anecdotal.
My only knowledge of the Sotas is what I have owned and listened to. I have a Cosmos, and two Stars now, or did until I sold one today. None of them have a pitch problem that I have noticed. But, the Star IIIs were made for a long time, so not all may be the same. My serial numbers were in the 30000s.
The Cosmos has the motor mounted to the same board as the bearing and platter, so there is no change in space between the motor and platter when the suspension moves, which is a main cause of pitch problems in suspended tables.

I also may not be as tuned in to pitch changes as you.
When pitch wavers, trailing edges of piano notes seem to blur. That is quite noticeable, probably more noticeable to me than absolute pitch. The Notts Hyperspace which eventually supplanted the Sota Star Sapphire III in my system, definitely was free of that problem. But you make a good point; my SSSIII was early 90s vintage, and from what I gather the "Star" model is still made. The early and late versions might be the same in name only. Also, yes, the issue may stem from mounting the motor to the plinth where the platter and bearing ride in the spring suspension. Thus the belt has to stretch and relax in tune with the suspension, unless the environment is dead quiet and totally free of mechanical feedback.
The Clearaudio Concept is a great TT that should just fit your budget, especially if you can stretch a bit further for the version that includes an MC cartridge. I think that package is $2,000 new.
wow, all this info has been very helpful, thanks to all. it seems like everyday i find my self looking at tt's i have not considered the day before. now, i am really considering the rega rp3 with elise for 650 and a hall mmf 7 for 550. they both seem like great deals, way cheaper then my spending limit which i would use the rest for a good cart or a DIY bootlehead seduction. both tt's i have a feeling will blow my p2 out of the water. and in a few years i will probably upgrade to one of the great tables that you guys have taught me about. if you had to choose one of the 2, which one would you go with? thanks again
There was a post about the Concept on audiokarma about a month ago. Here's what I said there:

My opinion: I would advise you not to buy a Concept. After many months as a staunch defender of Clearaudio, I have now had sufficient quality control problems that I wouldn't recommend their products at all.

The short version is:

(1) June: Bought a Concept. Loved the sound, loved the looks.
(2) August: the stylus fell out of the cartridge while playing a record. Sent it to Clearaudio, they refused to cover it under the warranty. Spent another $200 on a new Concept MM cartridge.
(3) September: the locking screw for the tonearm's VTA adjustment fell out. Had to have Clearaudio send me a new screw.
(4) December: having fallen in love with vinyl and having found a good deal on an Innovation, upgraded to the Innovation. Within 2 days, it became apparent that the motor and/or bearing were defective.
(5) December: the power supply broke on the Concept. The male plug in the back of the turntable that the power supply plugs into broke off inside the plug.
(6) January: returned the Concept to the dealer for a refund in light of all the problems. Just bought a VPI Classic. Maybe it'll have reliability issues down the line, maybe not. But they couldnt be worse than the problems I've had with Clearaudio.

In sum, Clearaudio products have amazing sound and looks -- WHEN they work. For myself, i'd never buy another of their products in my life.
wanted to thank everyone for their advice and knowledge, after extensive reading and the direction from this thread, i decided to save a few more dollars and get a new well tempered simplex. i do wish it had more of a look to it but the music is really all that matters. the down side is having to wait a couple more months before i can buy a wothy cartridge.
Glad we could help with your decision. As you have found out, there are lots of opinions and experiences with turntables. One of my favorites is the Oracle Alexandria II, which for conventional looking tables just gets the look right and sounds as good as the same vintage Delphi II. While my Sota Cosmos has a classic wood look, my delphi V and Transrotor Fat Bob have that mecho/art look to them. The well tempered tend more to the classic side of looks.
And as for runout, along with Well Tempered, the Oracle Delphi V and VI used nylon pins on opposing sides to center the platter shaft, 3 on top and 3 on bottom at 120 degrees from each other. Under load, the shaft has no play, and therefore reduced micro vibrations. My Fat Bob uses a magnetic bearing to hold the platter away from the bearing surface. Its more involved than that, but again, another way of doing it.
Please report back to us on your Simplex. Look forward to your impressions. And enjoy the new TT.
ok, so i guess i got alittle ahead of myself with my plan to save for the simplex. knowing that i was short a few hundred for the tt [also needing a cart], i was still researching, learning, wanting an upgrade from my well loved p2. a couple of days ago a concept came up for sale with the arum classic cart mint less then 100 hours on it for $900. i got him down to $830 and am driving to pick it up on sunday [counting the minutes]. i know this will blow my old tt away and it has such good feedback [minus the guy who's fell apart]. for the price i am paying, i just don't see how i can go wrong. i still intend for my next tt upgrade to be a well tempered and while i am enjoying every sacred moment of great music listening i will be slowly saving for a well tempered [after i get a new cart for the concept of course]! does anyone think i need the record clamp for this as well as the over priced IMO dust cover? also, any good cart recomendations for the concept? thanks
A good move it seems. And you can also spend some of the money you saved now on some more records.
i hooked up my concept today and am very happy with it. wondering if i need a felt mat for it. anyway, i am already excited to buy a new cart for it. thinking of the possibilities. first i need a bottlehead seduction. i think with these 2 upgrades, my setup will really come to life.
Ask around of other Concept owners. Mats tend to be very turntable dependent. I didn't try many on my Amadeus, but all reports said that the Auditorium 23 mat was the only one that they considered an improvement, on THAT turntable.

Maybe find mats with a trial period and money back guarantee. Herbies has such a policy. So does Music Direct. Music Direct sells the Concept, so their vinyl guy Chris can probably give a good recommendation for that table. Give him a call.